Bloody Show in Pregnancy: What It Is and Why It Happens

Team Peanut9 months ago5 min read

Whoah. Can we cut down on the melodrama? Bloody show? What is bloody show—and what on earth does it have to do with pregnancy? Have a baby, they said. It’ll be fun, they said—and now there’s talk of a bloody show?!

Third trimester

Turns out, when it comes to pregnancy, a bloody show is more than just a description of a Quentin Tarantino movie. A bloody show refers to the vaginal discharge that makes its appearance in the grand finale of your pregnancy. It’s made up of a delightful mix of mucus and blood from the cervix. Lovely.

Yep, that little bundle that you’re going to hold in your arms sure knows how to make one hell of an entrance. With a whole program of opening acts that look like they were crafted by an expert team of special effects pros, your tiny squirt seems to love a bit of drama.

(Look, nobody said this was going to be pretty.)

So let’s find out a little more about this exciting adventure—or, should we say, let’s get this bloody show on the road.

Bloody show pregnancy style

Bloody show vs mucus plug

To understand the bloody show, let’s go back a little to what happens in your cervix while you’re pregnant. Because our bodies are so damn amazing, the cervix chips in to protect the baby by creating a layer of mucus that serves as a plug for the uterus. That way, no bacteria or other enemies of growing babies can reach the little speck inside of you. It’s your baby’s own personal security system. (Sheesh. Acting like a celebrity already.)

While that’s all well and good (thanks again, cervix!), that “mucus plug” that bars entry, also bars exit—and that baby needs to get out somehow. When it’s time for that to happen, the cervix embarks on its very own dilation process to ensure that your little one has an open(ish) passage to journey into the world.

Um…but what happens to the plug? Good question. Well, first it loosens, then it releases.

How long after losing your mucus plug do you go into labor?

The thing is, pregnancy hates easy answers. All bodies are different, and it’s up to yours to decide how to perform this particular feat. Your mucus plug may drain from you in dribs and drabs, or it could fall out all at once. Some women start losing their mucus plugs weeks before labor begins, and others as soon as labor begins. It’s usually thick and gooey and chooses from a color palette of white and pink.

The bloody show and losing the mucus plug are often conflated but are not exactly the same thing. The bloody show is the result of the dilation of the cervix. When this happens, it results in the release of blood and mucus. Mix them together and you have yourself a bloody show.

That is pretty exciting because it means labor is either imminent or upon you. Which means baby. Which means so many cool things that we won’t get into right now.

So, let’s return to the battle of the bloody show vs the mucus plug: while it is perfectly acceptable to lose your mucus plug up to weeks before you pop, the bloody show gives you more of a reliable indicator that your baby is on their way.

What does the bloody show look like?

Here’s the funny part. For all of that bravado, the bloody show can be pretty light. (Seriously, is that name really necessary?) It’s usually a rather small amount of bloody mucus and can range in color from red to pink to brown to even a lovely little stripey white-red design.

And then, it’s important to remember that you may well go into labor with no bloody show at all.

What happens to the bloody show if labor is induced?

The one very real thing about all things pregnancy is that it so often doesn’t follow the specific plans we make for it. In many cases, labor has to be induced. But, about 75% of the time mamas still get to have a vaginal birth, if that’s what they’re after.

Now, one of the first steps a doctor or midwife will try when it comes to labor induction is what’s known as a membrane sweep. This involves them “sweeping” the cervix with their finger. Why? you ask. Well, it may encourage that amniotic sac to not hang on so tightly to your cervix—and, as a result, release some prostaglandins (hormones produced by the body during labor) and kick the whole process into gear.

So is a bloody show after a sweep a good sign? Well, again, there are no one-size-fits-all answers, but some blood after your sweep may mean that the process has worked effectively and that you could soon be on your way to giving birth.

You and this amazing bloody show

Finally, there are a number of reasons why you may be seeing blood in the latter part of pregnancy. Sometimes, for example, your late-stage cervical exams can cause a bit of bleeding that can be confused with the infamous bloody show.

As always, if you’re concerned about bleeding during pregnancy, there’s no point in waiting to contact your healthcare practitioner. They’ll talk you through the best course of action and make sure that all is moving along as swimmingly as it should.

But, if it is your standard bloody show—dare we say, enjoy it? Sounds weird, but this is one of the greatest bloody shows of your life.

We wish you all the best.